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15 Scenic Hikes In SoCal That ANYONE Can Do

Ok look, we all like hikes to get some fresh air and take in nature.

But not everybody wants to set off at 5am and go on a 9-hour full-day hike.

This post will tell you 15 scenic hikes that you can do in SoCal that are ALL easy to complete and take no more than 1-3 hours.

We’ve got ocean views, city views and waterfalls.

There’s a hike for EVERYONE on this list.

Would you do these hikes?

Make sure you stick around to the end where we outline the top picks for different categories!

1. Mount Pinos

Approximate hike time and distance: About 3.6 miles round trip, 2-3 hours.

The Mount Pinos hike offers one of the easiest and most accessible ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the Los Padres National Forest.

Summit of Mount Pinos

Starting from the Nordic Base near the parking area, this gentle trail invites hikers of all levels to explore the serene landscapes at over 8,000 feet elevation.

As you meander through the fragrant pine forests, keep an eye out for the diverse bird life and enjoy the cool mountain air.

This hike is perfect for those looking to enjoy panoramic views and possibly spot the majestic California Condor. 

With a relatively gentle path, it’s a great choice for families and individuals seeking tranquility among ancient pines at the center of the traditional Chumash lands.

If you want an extra challenge you can extend the hike to a 7.4-mile round trip to Sawmill Mountain.

2. Barker Dam, Joshua Tree

Approximate hike time and distance: 1.3 miles round trip, roughly 1-1.5 hours.

Barker Dam presents a unique Joshua Tree National Park experience, blending cultural history with natural beauty. 

barker dam joshua tree

As you walk this easy loop, you’ll encounter fascinating rock formations, ancient petroglyphs, and the picturesque dam itself, which reflects the stunning desert sky. 

Ideal for photographers and nature lovers alike, this trail offers a glimpse into the past and the diverse ecosystem of the Mojave Desert.

3. San Clemente Beach Trail

Approximate hike time and distance: 2.3 miles one way, around 1-2 hours depending on walking speed and stops.

Stroll along the scenic San Clemente Beach Trail for a relaxing walk with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. 

San Clemente Beach Trail

This trail, perfect for walkers of all ages, runs parallel to the coast, offering easy access to the beach and a chance to watch surfers riding the waves. 

Along the way, enjoy the beautifully landscaped path, the iconic San Clemente Pier, and numerous spots for a perfect beachside picnic.

4. Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail

Approximate hike time and distance: 3 miles round trip, typically 1.5-2.5 hours.

The Borrego Palm Canyon Nature Trail invites you to discover a hidden oasis in the heart of the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. 

Borrego Palm Canyon Trail

This accessible hike takes you through a stunning desert landscape, culminating in a lush palm grove fed by a natural spring. 

Keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep and the diverse array of desert flora and fauna along the way. 

It’s an enchanting experience that showcases the desert’s surprising ability to sustain life.

5. Skull Rock, Joshua Tree National Park

Approximate hike time and distance: About 1.7 miles round trip, around 1-1.5 hours.

Discover the spooky Skull Rock on a family-friendly journey in Joshua Tree National Park. 

skull rock joshua tree

This easy trail meanders through the desert, offering up-close views of the park’s famous jumbo rocks, including the eerily-shaped Skull Rock, which has been naturally sculpted by erosion. 

The surrounding landscape is dotted with fascinating rock formations and desert flora, making it a perfect spot for casual hikes and photo opportunities.

6. Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve

Approximate hike time and distance: Trails vary, but a typical loop is about 1-3 miles, 1-2 hours.

Visit the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve to witness Southern California’s most vibrant natural spectacle. 

Springtime poppy super bloom at Antelope Valley CA

During the spring, the reserve transforms into a sea of orange as the California poppies bloom in full force. 

The number of poppies that bloom varies from year to year, so keep an eye out for local updates to see if a super bloom is happening. That’s the best time to go.

Easy walking trails wind through the hills, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the breathtaking floral display. 

It’s an ideal outing for nature lovers and families looking to experience the beauty of wildflower season.

7. Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla

Approximate hike time and distance: Various trails, with the Beach Trail being about 3/4 mile one way, 1-2 hours for a round trip depending on the path taken.

Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla is a natural paradise that boasts some of the most picturesque coastal landscapes in California. 

Torrey Pines State Reserve, La Jolla

Hikers can explore a variety of trails that offer breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged cliffs, and the rare Torrey pine trees. 

Whether you’re seeking a leisurely walk to the beach or a more challenging hike up the bluffs, Torrey Pines provides a tranquil escape into nature’s beauty.

8. San Juan Loop Trail

Approximate hike time and distance: Approximately 2.2 miles, around 1-1.5 hours.

The San Juan Loop Trail is an accessible and enjoyable hike located near Lake Elsinore, offering stunning views of the Ortega Mountains. 

This loop trail is perfect for all ages and skill levels, featuring a variety of California native plants and the chance to spot local wildlife. 

With its cascading waterfalls in the wet season and shaded areas, it’s an ideal spot for a family outing or a peaceful solo hike in nature.

9. Etiwanda Falls

Approximate hike time and distance: About 3.4 miles round trip, 2-3 hours.

Etiwanda Falls offers a refreshing escape into the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains. 

This moderately easy hike winds through a picturesque landscape, leading to the beautiful falls. 

The trail is popular for its accessibility and the rewarding view of the cascading water at the hike’s endpoint. 

Along the way, hikers can enjoy the lush greenery and the soothing sounds of nature, making it a perfect outdoor adventure for those looking to explore the natural beauty of Southern California.

10. Temescal Canyon Hike

Approximate hike time and distance: Around 2.6 miles for the loop, 1.5-2.5 hours.

Nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains, Temescal Canyon offers a scenic loop hike that features stunning ocean views, a seasonal waterfall, and densely wooded areas.

 The hike includes a moderate climb that rewards walkers with panoramic vistas of the Pacific Ocean and the Los Angeles skyline. 

Ideal for families, nature lovers, and photography enthusiasts, this trail provides a serene setting to enjoy the outdoors and catch a glimpse of local wildlife.

11. Runyon Canyon Hike

Approximate hike time and distance: Varies, from a 0.85-mile loop to a 3.3-mile loop, 1-2 hours for the longer loop.

Runyon Canyon is a staple for hikers in the Los Angeles area, offering expansive views of the city and the Hollywood Sign. 

runyon canyon

This popular urban hike has various trails that cater to all fitness levels, from easy walks to more challenging climbs. 

It’s a fantastic place for people-watching, dog-walking, and enjoying a sunny day out. 

The summit provides a panoramic view of Los Angeles, making it a must-visit for both locals and tourists looking for a quick escape into nature.

12. Whiting Ranch Red Rock Canyon Hike

Approximate hike time and distance: Roughly 4 miles round trip, 2-3 hours.

Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park’s Red Rock Canyon offers a unique hiking experience reminiscent of the American Southwest, right in the heart of Orange County. 

This easy-to-moderate trail winds through oak woodlands and open grasslands before entering the stunning Red Rock Canyon, with its towering red sandstone formations. 

It’s an ideal hike for those interested in geology or anyone looking for a peaceful hike with a dramatic backdrop. 

The trail is well-maintained, making it accessible for hikers of all levels.

13. Holy Jim Falls

Approximate hike time and distance: About 2.8 miles round trip, 1.5-2.5 hours.

Holy Jim Falls trail offers a tranquil retreat into the Cleveland National Forest, leading hikers through a lush canyon to a charming waterfall. 

The trail is shaded by towering trees, making it a cool hike even on warmer days. 

Along the way, the path crosses streams and offers a glimpse of the local flora and fauna. 

It’s an excellent hike for families and those looking for a relatively easy walk with the reward of a beautiful waterfall at the end.

14. Eaton Canyon Falls

Approximate hike time and distance: Approximately 3.5 miles round trip, 2-3 hours.

Eaton Canyon Falls is a popular hiking destination in Pasadena, known for its easy access and beautiful waterfall that cascades into a refreshing pool below. 

Eaton Canyon Falls Waterfall

The trail is family-friendly, providing an opportunity to explore the natural surroundings, including a variety of native plants and wildlife. 

The final stretch to the waterfall requires a bit of rock hopping, adding a small adventure to the journey. 

It’s a perfect spot for those looking to enjoy a short hike with a picturesque payoff.

15. Solstice Canyon Hike

Approximate hike time and distance: Around 3 miles round trip, 1.5-2.5 hours.

Solstice Canyon offers a scenic and historical hike in Malibu, providing a blend of natural beauty and ruins to explore. 

Solstice canyon

The trail leads hikers to the remains of the Roberts Ranch House, also known as the Tropical Terrace, which is enveloped by lush vegetation and a small waterfall. 

This easy hike is perfect for all ages, offering shaded paths, creek crossings, and stunning ocean views from certain vantage points. 

It’s an ideal choice for those interested in a mix of hiking and history in the great outdoors.

Top Picks


Solstice Canyon Hike is arguably the most scenic, with its mix of historical ruins, a waterfall, and lush landscapes.

This trail encapsulates the essence of Malibu’s natural beauty, making it a memorable hike for all who venture here.

Although if you happen to be at Antelope Valley during a superbloom then that probably takes the top spot!


Torrey Pines State Reserve offers unparalleled ocean views, with trails leading to overlooks of the Pacific.

Its location in La Jolla ensures breathtaking vistas, especially from the Beach Trail.

The San Clemente Beach Trail and Temescal Canyon are also good contenders for ocean views.


Runyon Canyon Hike is the top pick for city views, providing a panoramic perspective of Los Angeles, including the iconic Hollywood Sign.

It’s a popular urban hike for both locals and visitors wanting to capture the essence of the city from above.

Sophie Davis

Born and raised in the Bay area of California, Sophie is a California native. She joined our team in 2023 to create travel guides on California.

Learn more about the Traveller's Elixir Team.

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